How Can We Help?
Our advocates work with the District Attorney’s Office on behalf of the victims. Our advocates attend the Preliminary Hearings conducted at the Criminal Justice Center in Center City.
We can explain the proceedings and your rights as a victim. We can assist you with court scheduling conflicts, tracking the progress of the case, securing a protection order, filing out an affidavit, or making special transportation or translation requests. We can arrange court accompaniment.
What’s a Preliminary Hearing?
The Preliminary Hearing is a court procedure, presided over by a Judge, and conducted to determine whether there is enough reason or evidence to go forward with a trial.
Where and when?
Preliminary Hearings are conducted at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) in Center City at 13th and Filbert (near city hall)
Be sure to arrive early-
no later than 8 AM - as you must pass through a security checkpoint in the lobby and hearings begin at 8:30 AM.
There is no free parking available at the Criminal Justice Center. Child care is not available. There is a victim/witness waiting room on the first floor.
Proceed to the courtroom specified on your subpoena.
Check in with the Court Advocate assigned to your room. The advocate will be able to tell you the name of the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) assigned to your case and answer any other questions you may have.
Click the above image for information regarding courthouse locations.
For questions regarding the Office of the District Attorney please click the above image.
Arraignment & Trial
Often a case is not ready to be heard. For example, an important witness is unavailable or an attorney has a scheduling conflict. In this instance a case will be “continued,” postponed to a later date. This is called a “continuance.”
When and if the Judge at the Preliminary Hearing decides the case should be tried, the Judge directs the defendant be “held for court.” The Judge may direct bail for the defendant.
Several weeks after the Preliminary Hearing the defendant will be arraigned. Arraignment means the defendant is formally charged with a crime and enters a plea. The victim does not have to be present for the arraignment.
In the weeks following, the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) and the defendant’s attorney will appear before a judge for one or more status hearings. Eventually it will be determined that both sides are ready and the case is set for trial. A trial date is set.
Throughout this process Northeast Victim Service can assist you track the status of the case and your communication with the ADA. We can advise you about protection orders, affidavits, etc.
Trial & Sentencing
At the trial, the question of guilt or innocence will be decided.
You have a right to be present at the trial.
If the defendant is found guilty the Judge will set a date for sentencing the defendant.
You have a right to present a “Victim Impact Statement” before the defendant is sentenced. Northeast Victim Service can help you write this statement explaining to the Judge the effects of your victimization for the Court’s consideration.
If you suffered some financial loss as a result of the crime, the Court can order “restitution” when the defendant either is found guilty or admits guilt. The Court decides the amount of restitution and directs the defendant to pay this restitution to the victim through the Philadelphia Probation Department.
Northeast Victim Service can assist you after the trial with contacting the Adult and Juvenile Probation/Parole Departments.